Your Mac connects to one of the Thunderbolt 2 ports; you can then connect your Thunderbolt peripherals to the other port. If you have multiple peripherals, you can daisy-chain them. And as with the other Thunderbolt 2 docks I’ve reviewed, you can connect a 4K monitor to the Echo 15+.
The Echo 15+ is the first Thunderbolt device I’ve seen with a method for securing the Thunderbolt cable connection. Sonnet offers the ThunderLok, which is essentially a sleeve that fits over a Thunderbolt cable connector. The sleeve has a built-in thumbscrew that attaches to a screw hole next to each Thunderbolt port on the Echo 15+. They’re sold separately ($8 each or $13 for two) and they’re worth the money, especially if you’re putting the Echo 15+’s storage device and optical drive to heavy use. (I have an iMac I use for testing (in addition to a Retina MacBook Pro) and on numerous occasions I’ve had a Thunderbolt cable slip out of the iMac as I reach around to connect or disconnect a device. I’d love to have a way to secure a Thunderbolt connection to a Mac.)
Unfortunately, Sonnet doesn’t include a Thunderbolt cable with the dock. The company offers for purchase both copper and optical Thunderbolt cables, ranging in length and price.
During testing, I never had any problems with the Echo 15+. Connected devices always work without any performance issues, though if you daisy-chain Thunderbolt devices, you’ll experience some speed issues regardless of the dock you are using.
The Echo 15+ requires the installation of a Mac driver that you download from Sonnet’s website. The software installs a handy menu bar icon that you can use to eject all mounted devices that are connected via the Echo 15+ all at once. The software’s release notes recommend that the driver “should only be run in OS X 10.9 and above.”
The Echo 15+ has a fan to keep its interior cool. The fan is relatively quiet, but then again, no other Thunderbolt dock has a fan (and no other Thunderbolt dock has a storage bay and optical drive). But if you need absolute silence from your devices, you won’t get it from the Echo 15+.
While the Echo 15+ is a big box, it’s strong enough to support a display sitting on top of it. Sonnet says it can support a display up to 34-inches, and can also carry a Mac Pro or a 27-inch iMac.
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